Nine-person board now has 4 women.
Gov. Rick Scott last week appointed three new members, including one for an open seat, and reappointed one to the 4th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission.
The appointments quadruple the number of women who will help choose some of Northeast Florida’s new judges.
“Women must have a seat at the table and a voice in the room when it comes to vetting judicial candidates, and we are pleased to see this change from one woman in nine commissioners to four in nine,” said Jamie Karpman, president of the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association.
“JNC composition reflective of the gender diversity in our circuit is a crucial step in eliminating gender bias in the legal profession,” she said.
The new members are:
Karen Bowling, of Jacksonville Beach, is president of Thrive Consulting LLC, which specializes in health care and government relations.
Previously a member of the government and public policy practice at the Foley & Lardner law firm and chief administrative officer in former Mayor Alvin Brown’s administration, Bowling also is former CEO of Solantic Urgent Care, a company she co-founded with Scott in 2001.
Bowling received her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Florida. She is appointed for a term ending July 1, 2022.
Courtney Grimm, of Green Cove Springs, is the county attorney for Clay County. She was a member of the commission from 2012-17 and is a past president of the Jacksonville Bar Association.
Before becoming county attorney, Grimm practiced for 15 years with Bedell, Dittmar, DeVault, Pillans & Coxe.
Grimm received her bachelor’s degree from Sweet Briar College and her law degree from the University of Florida. Her term on the commission will end July 1, 2022.
Helen Peacock Roberson, of Jacksonville, was appointed to the open seat. A partner with the Tanner Bishop law firm, she’s married to 4th Circuit Judge Eric Roberson.
Roberson serves as vice president of programs for the Jacksonville Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and is the board of directors chair emeritus for a local nonprofit, Girls Incorporated of Jacksonville.
She received her bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Florida. Roberson is appointed for a term ending July 1, 2019.
Chip Bachara Jr. was reappointed and will continue to serve on the commission until July 1, 2022. A former chair of the commission, he is board-certified in construction law and the managing partner of Bachara Construction Law Group.
Bachara received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and his law degree from Mercer University.
Commission Chair Patrick Kilbane said he plans to schedule a publicly noticed meeting to introduce the new appointees to the incumbent members and to discuss JNC rules and procedures.
With the exit of the only African-American on the panel, attorney Dexter Van Davis, the new commission is without representation from the minority community.
Speaking on behalf of the D.W. Perkins Bar Association, President Gregory Redmon said its membership, predominantly African-American, is looking forward to working with the commission to identify well-qualified candidates for the bench in Clay, Duval and Nassau counties.
“It is our hope the new commissioners will be committed to giving full and fair consideration to candidates that results in more diversity and inclusion among the judges in this circuit,” he said.
The third opening was created by the departure of Michael Abel, whose term ended.